Skinny BIG EASY. Looks like the fix is in for Richard Miranda, City Manager Luis Gutierrez's hand-picked successor to departing Tucson Police Chief Doug Smith. On Wednesday, what appears to be a Gutierrez-appointed committee was quickly convened for a murky, private review of the three candidates for chief--Miranda, and his fellow assistant chiefs, Collier Hill and Robert Lehner. The three were slated to answer questions generated by Gutierrez. Reports have it that the panelists, whoever they are, were restricted from asking their own questions.

We also hear that the candidates were to be asked questions specially tailored to each man (a violation of EEOC rules), and that the candidates weren't to be ranked afterwards as to their suitability, a real departure from above-board procedures used to pick Smith.

But hey, maybe we shouldn't bitch. After all, if a clean selection process picked Smith, how could sleazy scheming do any worse?

Either way, guess who gets to make the final recommendation to the City Council on Smith's replacement? None other than Gutierrez.

Who's expected to top that list? Miranda, for reasons--or unpaid favors--yet unknown. Keep in mind that this is the same Miranda who, two weeks earlier, lied to the City Council about the facts surrounding TPD's major botching of a recent beating incident on Fourth Avenue.

Sounds like the perfect man to fill Smith's shoes.

Meanwhile, the potted plants on the Council are expected to let this little political porker by Gutierrez' slide right on through.

SWAT DOC RE-SIGNED: UbiquiDoc Richard Carmona will keep his title of chief executive officer of the Pima County Health and Medical Services System. The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 last week to keep Carmona in the job he worked himself into after serving as the chairman of the blue-ribbon panel that examined the county medical and health system. The Board of Stupes, with Democrat Sharon Bronson dissenting, will give Carmona $180,000 a year. The former head of trauma at Tucson Medical Center, Carmona is also the Sheriff's doc, the Rural Metro doc, a UA student health doc, and a new member of the lax state Board of Medical Examiners. Reports of a four-year contract aren't quite correct. State law forbids the Stupes from binding successor boards with holdover administrators. A new board will be seated in January 2001.

Carmona is spread too thin, and he's too much of a Zelig. Kino's management was destroyed in 1993 by supervisors Ed Moore, Paul Marsh and Mikey Boyd. Carmona backers, Democrat Raul Grijalva and Republican Sugar Ray Carroll cast hypocritical votes to solidify the good doctor's current rule. In October, both Grijalva and Carroll voted against a $138,000-a-year contract for County Manger Chuck Huckelberry saying they wanted the Huck to work without a contract. The two also complained then about the lack of performance measures and reviews for Huckelberry. Grijalva now says that Carmona's contract will be modified to include reviews.

Like Huckelberry, Carmona has a $75,000 parachute if he's canned before the end of the contract.

Meanwhile, Bronson, who hates Carmona, pins Kino's long-term debt of $18 million (over 16 years and mostly attributable to the state's switch to the indigent healthcare plan, AHCCCS) entirely on Carmona. That's a tired refrain borrowed from Moore and his cronies.

HAWKE EYED: Former state legislator Larry Hawke, a onetime midtown moderate, is back from his job as a lobbyist for the Nevada Mining Association and is now with Pima County's Department of Environmental Quality. Hawke flew the legislative coop at the end of the 1988 session and finished at the University of Arizona College O' Law in 1991. From there it was on to Reno/Carson City. Hawke now is a program manager for DEQ at $60,000 a year.

His appointment is making some folks nervous because of his work for Nevada mining interests. Local mining interests gutted Pima County DEQ's air-quality regulation authority four years ago. Hawke is working mostly with area governments and the state Department of Environmental Quality. But according County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry's order, Hawke will not do any lobbying for the county.

THE FISCHER THING: The Arizona Daily Star, which is only making about $20 million or so in annual profits, can't seem to afford a reporter to cover the state governor's race, so the paper is depending on a former reporter acting as a freelancer. Reading the stories filed by former Star gazer Howie Fischer, it's pretty obvious that his sympathies lie with incumbent Gov. Jane Dee Hull.

The Star coverage of the revelation that Hull had sucked up over $20,000 in campaign contributions from Las Vegas gaming interests was slanted by Fischer, who allowed the Guv's son and campaign manager to spin the story into an attack on her Democratic rival, Paul Johnson, for "leaking" the information to the press and thereby somehow being guilty of nasty campaign tactics.

Excuse us? The information on Hull's campaign money was part of her own financial report, which apparently only the Tribune newspapers in the Phoenix area bothered to read and report on. They also were perceptive enough to notice that Hull has always been an opponent of Indian gaming, which might just possibly be a motive for all that Vegas money heading her way. Fisher and the Star let Hull's people get away with murder by claiming that an easily available public record had been "leaked."

Unlike most of the ignorant reporters who usually write political stories these days, Fischer knows better. In fact, the Tribune papers are one of his clients. And Johnson, who should have responded strongly to these stupid charges, once again looked like a deer in the headlights when he mumbled something denying he was the "leak."

ORO VALLEY OCCUPATION OF TORTOLITA CONTINUES: The recent pseudo-annexation of large chunks of Tortolita by the crazed imperialists of Oro Valley has resulted in increased activity in the disputed area by Oro Valley personnel. Guided by Oro Valley Town Manger Chuck Sweet, the principle architect of Oro Valley's Manifest Destiny, the attitude towards the Tortolita peasantry is reminiscent of British patrols in Northern Ireland.

Tortolita has yet to be disincorporated--and may not be, as there are more court cases coming--but that fact has been ignored by Oro Valley officials in their sleazy attempt to suck up to land owners and developers seeking relaxed zoning rules. While the matter is in court and Tortolita is seeking relief, Oro Valley cops are patrolling Tortolita with a vengeance, and Oro Valley road crews are acting like the streets are theirs. The motive is obvious--Oro Valley will claim that possession is more important than what the law clearly states, which is that you can't annex something that belongs to somebody else.

Two questions arise from all this: How do current Oro Valley residents benefit by paying for cops and road crews outside their town? And whatever happened to those two so-called "green" public officials elected from the Oro Valley Coalition this year, Mayor Paul Loomis and Council member Fran LaSala? Both have sympathized with Tortolita, proclaimed the possible illegality of their town's moves, and then turned around and voted for the annexations.

Are Loomis and La Sala craven, stupid or just confused? How do you tell the difference between them and the cementheads they replaced? Is their something in the water at Oro Valley Town Hall that corrupts council members as soon as they're sworn in?

And, aside from the Tortolitans who are now driving through Oro Valley's chickenshit speed traps, how does this benefit the people of Oro Valley? TW

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